Basil Plant Information. Basil is an aromatic herb used in cooking and crafts. There are various kinds of basil, but the one used in Italian cooking is sweet basil or Mediterranean basil.
Basil is an aromatic herb used in cooking and crafts. There are various kinds of basil, but the one used in Italian cooking is sweet basil or Mediterranean basil.
Basil has a sweet, pungent aroma and is a low-growing plant with bright green, rounded, classic-shaped leaves. It can grow from 30 cm to 60 cm tall, depending on the variety (cultivar) and has tiny, white flowers clustered on a spike-like stem.
Basil, or Ocimum basilicum, is part of the mint family, Lamiaceae, genus Ocimum. Variants on sweet basil include sacred basil, lemon basil and clove basil.
Basil can be used fresh or dried. It adds flavor to soups, stews and roast meat. Fresh basil is more aromatic but will only last one or two days in the refrigerator. You can, however, quickly blanch it and then freeze the leaves. Basil also yields an essential oil used in aromatherapy, flavoring and perfumes.
Basil can be grown indoors and out but dislikes frost. If it encounters cold weather, the basil will die out and behave like an annual. If the climate is warmer, or if a greenhouse provides protection, it can stay alive as a perennial.
The name basil comes from the Greek "basilicus" or king. In some European countries, for example Italy and France, basil is nicknamed "the king's herb."
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